St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church



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MEMORIAL DAY  

tFr. Nicholas V. Gamvas 

 

A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT LET US NOT FORGET! 

 

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who 

have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, 

with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of "Memorial 

Day." There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of 

the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedica-

tion "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's 

Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920).  

 

I would propose to you that it is not important who was the very first to celebrate "Memorial Day". What is important 



is that Memorial Day was established. "Memorial Day" is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about com-

ing together to honor those who gave their all.  

 

What do we know about "Memorial Day?" Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John 



Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. It was first observed on 

May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National 

Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all 

of the northern states. It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday of May.  

 

In 1915, Moina Michael wrote a poem "In Flanders Fields," "We Cherish too, the Poppy Red… That grows on fields 



where valor led… It seems to signal to the skies… that blood of heroes never die. 

 

She then conceived the idea to wear red poppies on "Memorial Day" in honor of those who died serving the nation 



during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to 

benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this 

new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France, she made artificial red poppies to raise money 

for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-

American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League dis-

banded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before "Memorial Day" in 1922 the 

VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program 

was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her 

role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.  

 

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of 



the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National 

Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.  

Those who risked their lives on our behalf are often very clear about what matters most in their own lives, and they 

tell it to those they love. Listen to these words written by Master Sergeant Kelly Hornbeck, of the Special Forces, 

who was killed in action last January, south of Samarra. He wrote this to his parents back in Fort Worth, Texas: "I am 

not afraid, and neither should either of you be -- For I trust in my God and my training, two powerful forces that can-

not be fully measured."  

 

Although the burden of grief cannot not be easily done away with and the sadness over an unfinished life easily laid 



aside, it must be understood that completeness of a life is not measured in length only. It is measured in the deeds 

and commitments that give a life its purpose. And the commitment of these lives was clear to all: They defended our 

nation, they liberated the oppressed, they served the cause of peace. All Americans who have known the loss and 

sadness of war, whether recently or long ago, can know this: The person they love and miss is honored and remem-

bered by the United States of America. 

   18   


 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



     Koinonia May & June 2014 


Our Flag a Tribute to our Great Nation 

FLAG DAY~ June 14 

tFr. Nicholas V. Gamvas 



 

 

 

 

   Koinonia May & June 2014 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



             19 

Our founding fathers used GOD's word and teachings to establish our Great Nation

,

 and I think it's high time Americans 

get re-educated about this Nation's history

 

and to

 

understand what the flag draped coffin really means

.

 

 

 

Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers and fathers and 

mothers and children: 

 

Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776? 

 

 

Have you ever noticed that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America 

Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day! 

 

The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life. 

 

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life. 

 

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for 

the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world. 

 

The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace 

as well as in time of war for His divine guidance. 

 

The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, 'Our Country, in dealing with other countries, 

may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.' 

 

The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that

 

they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States 

of America , and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all. 

 

 

The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their   

flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic. 

 

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day. 

 

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood and mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion 

that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded. 

 

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country     

since they were first born. 

 

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, 

the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

 

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christian



s eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy 

Spirit. 

 

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their Nations motto,         

'In God We Trust.' 

 

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the    

soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John    

Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving    

for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today. 

 

 

There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you'll see flags folded and     

now you will know why. 

 

Our US FLAG is the symbol of 'Liberty and Freedom.' 


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